Monday, June 04, 2007

Distributed Narratives

An excellent post on the Workbook Project on distributed narratives tying together film, alternative reality games (ARGs), comics, and games by Christy Dena (cross-mediaentertainment, Writer Response Theory). From Australia? Is all the cool stuff happening down under these days (Post - Machinima Down Under). I previously talked about the future of narratives (and disrupted narratives), so this excellent post presents a lot of ideas on the fragmentary nature of many story-telling initiatives these days that I find absolutely fascinating. I was surprised that although the article centered on film that there was no mention of similar attempts in television (like ABC's Lost websites and the Dharma initiative - although on one of the other blogs TV is mentioned). Perhaps a future article is in the works.

There are a few things that can come of this shattered narrative concept. One in which by using multiple forms of media for storytelling a greater audience can be reached by content creators (the shotgun approach - those who read the comic might watch the movie). Another is similar to what happens in a game like World of Warcraft, wherein the worlds become so immersive that players/viewers completely lose themselves digesting the various threads. And of course the most interesting is wherein players/viewers take the core ideas of the narrative and produce their own content (Star Wars fan flicks, Middle Earth festivals, Star Trek conventions) and push the story in new directions. Of course all three can occur simultaneously.

Why do the more successful participatory distributed narratives all seem to involve fantasy, mysticism, magic, and superheroes? Is audience participation more enjoyable when it takes place in worlds/stories where anything can happen or do these worlds and stories simply resonate emotionally with the audience? Is religion the ultimate distributed narrative?


Christy Dena said...


Thankyou for mentioning my article. As for the reason why I didn't cover ARGs that extend TV shows, books, digital games and so on -- my scope for the article was just about the relationship between film and other artforms. I could rant for hours about all the rest but it was specifically about films. If you'd like to know more about ARGs and TV shows etc, please check out my main blog.

BTW, how long have you been looking at "distributed narratives"? Did you know that is what Jill Walker calls them? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter as it is these sorts of narratives that are my passion.

bllius said...

Hi, thanks.
Yes, I suppose that is why I made the point about another article. I'll definitely check out the blog(s).

I haven't been thinking or writing about DNs for long at all and these posts are the only ones so far.